The ability to inhibit mitophagy converts fluorizoline into a promising antitumor agent

  • Fluorizoline was known for its pro-apoptotic action on various tumor cells.
  • Now, a study by IDIBELL and the University of Barcelona shows that apart from promoting cell death, this compound inhibits the degradation of mitochondria.
  • Previous studies suggest that mitophagy inhibition could help improve the effectiveness of chemotherapy.
NO88 - J Gil_Oncogenesis - Imagen

The Apoptosis and Cancer team of IDIBEL, led by Dr. Joan Gil, professor in the Department of Physiological Sciences of the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences of the University of Barcelona, ​​has shown that the compound fluorizoline inhibits the degradation of the mitochondria. The group had previously described that fluorizoline, synthesized by Dr. Rodolfo Lavilla’s group from the Faculty of Pharmacy of the University of Barcelona, ​​induced apoptosis in tumor cell lines and primary tumor cells of human leukemias and lymphomas. Now, this new study shows that it also can inhibit the degradation of mitochondria, which converts it into a promising antitumor agent.

The degradation of mitochondria, also referred to as mitophagy, is an intrinsic process of the cell by which damaged mitochondria are eliminated and recycled, ensuring the integrity and proper functioning of the cell. Several studies have suggested that mitophagy inhibitors, combined with conventional cancer treatments, could improve the effectiveness of chemotherapy.

Recent studies had shown that prohibitin, the protein fluorizoline binds to, is involved in mitophagy. The results of Dr. Gil’s team in collaboration with the Inserm group of Dr. Jean-Ehrland. Ricci and Dr. Sandrine Marchetti from C3M in Nice, published in the journal Oncogenesis, show that fluorizoline not only binds prohibitins but also stops the degradation of mitochondria in various tumor cell types.

These results are part of the Doctoral Thesis of Sonia Núñez-Vázquez, co-directed by Dr. Gil and Dr. Daniel Iglesias-Serret, professor at the University of Vic. This research has been funded by the Ministry of Science and Innovation and ERF (SAF2017-83178-R).



The Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute (IDIBELL) is a biomedical research center created in 2004. It is participated by the Bellvitge University Hospital and the Viladecans Hospital of the Catalan Institute of Health, the Catalan Institute of Oncology, the University of Barcelona and the City Council of L’Hospitalet de Llobregat.

IDIBELL is a member of the Campus of International Excellence of the University of Barcelona HUBc and is part of the CERCA institution of the Generalitat de Catalunya. In 2009 it became one of the first five Spanish research centers accredited as a health research institute by the Carlos III Health Institute. In addition, it is part of the “HR Excellence in Research” program of the European Union and is a member of EATRIS and REGIC. Since 2018, IDIBELL has been an Accredited Center of the AECC Scientific Foundation (FCAECC).

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